CONFERENCE On Demand: Cyber AI & Automation Summit - Watch Now
Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?


Malware & Threats

SBDH Espionage Toolkit Used to Target European Governments

Researchers at security firm ESET have come across a malicious toolkit used by threat actors in cyber espionage operations targeting government organizations in Central and Eastern Europe.

Researchers at security firm ESET have come across a malicious toolkit used by threat actors in cyber espionage operations targeting government organizations in Central and Eastern Europe.

The toolkit, dubbed by ESET “SBDH” based on a string found in its downloader, is designed to exfiltrate specific files from the systems of targeted organizations. Several instances of the malware have been observed by the security firm over the past year in attacks aimed at government and public institutions.

According to experts, some of the attacks focused on organizations that specialize in economic growth and cooperation. The list of targeted countries includes the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia – countries that are part of the Visegrad Group – and Ukraine.

The SBDH downloader is delivered by attackers using spear phishing emails. In an effort to avoid raising suspicion, the threat is designed to look like a Microsoft application. Once executed, the downloader contacts a remote server and downloads the toolkit’s main components: an information stealer and a backdoor.

The toolkit has a powerful filter that allows threat actors to specify exactly what type of files they want to steal based on attributes like extension, size and date of creation.

The malware uses multiple methods to connect to its command and control (C&C) server, including HTTP requests and the SMTP protocol. Older versions were also designed to use Microsoft Outlook Express if all else failed. By using the email client for communications, attackers ensured that the malicious messages sent and received through the victim’s email account would bypass security products.

In more recent versions of SBDH, the malware authors have been improving HTTP communications, attempting to disguise the malicious traffic using fake JPEG and GIF image files.

The malware is also capable of obtaining the address of its C&C server by accessing a hardcoded URL that points to a fake image hosted on a blog.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

One of the more interesting persistence methods used by some SBDH variants involves changing settings so that the malware would get executed every time a user opened a Word document.

Researchers noted that the malware leverages some techniques that are similar to the ones observed in Operation Buhtrap, a cybercrime campaign focusing on Russian banks. Earlier this year, experts reported that the Buhtrap gang had stolen $25 million from 13 Russian banks over a six-month period.

Written By

Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a managing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.

Click to comment

Daily Briefing Newsletter

Subscribe to the SecurityWeek Email Briefing to stay informed on the latest threats, trends, and technology, along with insightful columns from industry experts.

Join us as we delve into the transformative potential of AI, predictive ChatGPT-like tools and automation to detect and defend against cyberattacks.


As cybersecurity breaches and incidents escalate, the cyber insurance ecosystem is undergoing rapid and transformational change.


Expert Insights

Related Content


The changing nature of what we still generally call ransomware will continue through 2023, driven by three primary conditions.


A recently disclosed vBulletin vulnerability, which had a zero-day status for roughly two days last week, was exploited in a hacker attack targeting the...

Malware & Threats

The NSA and FBI warn that a Chinese state-sponsored APT called BlackTech is hacking into network edge devices and using firmware implants to silently...


No one combatting cybercrime knows everything, but everyone in the battle has some intelligence to contribute to the larger knowledge base.

Application Security

Virtualization technology giant VMware on Tuesday shipped urgent updates to fix a trio of security problems in multiple software products, including a virtual machine...

Malware & Threats

Unpatched and unprotected VMware ESXi servers worldwide have been targeted in a ransomware attack exploiting a vulnerability patched in 2021.


The recent ransomware attack targeting Rackspace was conducted by a cybercrime group named Play using a new exploitation method, the cloud company revealed this...

Malware & Threats

Threat actors are increasingly abusing Microsoft OneNote documents to deliver malware in both targeted and spray-and-pray campaigns.